• Friday Dec 09, 2016

    Panama int’l Cooper making mark at Toronto FC

    Panama international Armando Cooper (pictured) has scored one goal and added three assists in 11 combined regular- and post-season games with Toronto FC, since being loaned to club from Arabe Unido in August. (Photo: Mexsport)

    TORONTO -- Regardless of how Toronto FC fares in the MLS Cup final on Saturday night, one thing is certain: Armando Cooper wants to remain with the Major League Soccer side for 2017 and beyond.

    The 29-year-old Panama international has become a vital part of the team's playoff success as a midfield force, since he was loaned from Arabe Unido on August 18.

    "I am comfortable," said Cooper. "I am happy here. I would like to stay here a long while more."

    That certainly is fine with head coach Greg Vanney, who will direct Toronto against the visiting Seattle Sounders at BMO Field.

    "Our intent is to have him here for the long haul," the former United States international, 42, commented. ”We brought him in because we want him to be a part of this and to buy in and help this team not to win just one championship, but as many as we can.

    "He has been fantastic. It's not easy for players who come from outside the league to adapt as quickly."

    Cooper, who has earned 77 caps, hasn't produced flashy numbers in his short time with Toronto (two assists in six regular-season matches), but he has provided intangibles. A goal and an assist in the 5-2 second-leg win over the Montreal Impact in the Eastern Conference final on November 30 were evidence of his influence.

    “He covers a lot of ground,” said Vanney. “He's not afraid to take the ball under pressure and manage the situation. He's given us another guy who's confident and a real man in the midfield.”

    The 5-foot-11, 150-lb. Cooper has won three Panamanian titles with Arabe Unido. He has never celebrated a championship outside his native country during stints with Godoy Cruz (Argentina), Otelul Galati (Romania) and FC St. Pauli (Germany).

    "So it's something that I am really gung-ho about," he expressed. "We deserve to be at where we're at right now."

    And so is Cooper.

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